Chicken, Alaska is a very small town. In 1997, the population was 4. Chicken is located on the Taylor Highway, which starts about 20 miles south of Tok, Alaska, and ends at Dawson City, Yukon Territory in Canada. The highway runs through the southern Ogilvie Mountain Range and offers beautiful views and vistas along the way. There is a border crossing about half way along this route, but it is only open 9am-6pm each day. There are no camping facilities in the area, so a traveler must plan wisely before beginning the 6-7 hour journey. It is also important to note that the highway on the Canadian side of the border is called Top of the World Highway.

Chicken was established during the Klondike Gold Rush. In 1896, Bob Mathieson discovered gold on Chicken creek, and as was the procedure at the time, he staked his claim. The town grew and prospered during this era and the post office was established in 1903. But why the hell is it called Chicken? Here is an excerpt from the Chicken, Alaska homepage:

As the story goes, the miners collectively decided to name their community "Ptarmigan" after the species of bird, which prevailed in the area. However, no one was certain of the correct spelling of "Ptarmigan", and since the miners called the birds "tundra chickens", they voted on naming the town CHICKEN!

Today, Chicken serves mostly as a rest stop for bus tours, although in the summer months there is still some gold mining going on. One can take a historical tour or visit the Chicken Post Office, the Chicken Saloon, the Chicken Gift Shop or the Chicken Diner. The gift shop sells tacky tourist souvenirs and cards that read Greetings from Chicken, Alaska! and I survived a 7 day Alaska Cruises Bus Tour! The majority of the visitors to Chicken are over the age of 65.

Chicken, Alaska can only be reached during the summer months, as heavy snow falls shut down the highway from mid-October to mid-March. During this time, the residents who choose to stay, opt out for hibernation.

For pictures and more detailed information visit these Chicken, Alaska web sites:
http://www.chickenak.com/
or
http://www.chickenalaska.com/chicken/index.html

The second site listed here contains a short Lonely Planet documentary and a short Chicken quiz.

Chicken is a very very very small town in the remote wilderness of Alaska, about 100 miles from Dawson City. The town was started around 1895 when gold was discovered nearby. Originally, the town was named Ptarmigan, after Alaska's state bird which looks like a chicken. They eventually renamed the town because Ptarmigan was too hard to spell. During the Gold Rush years, the town's population swelled to about 400.

Anne Hobbs Purdy tells of her experiences as a schoolteacher in the book Tisha, which is based in Chicken. The old schoolhouse is now located on the old town site, which was abandoned when the Jack Wade Gold Mine closed in 1967.

Chicken is located at milepost 66 on Taylor Highway, a gravel road which is closed in the winter. The town has about 17 residents, although the population increases during the summer months when miners come to work at nearby gold mines. The town has no telephones or flush toilets, and they get their electricity from generators. Very few people have televisions. There is currently no school in Chicken, so children are taught at home.

Chicken's ZIP code is 99732. Mail arrives on Tuesdays and Fridays by plane at the nearby airstrip.

During the summer months, popular activities include hiking and canoeing, and walking tours of the old town site. Tourists may pan for gold behind The Goldpanner, a souvenir shop. The adventurous can experience the Wild Tire Ride, in which one climbs into a giant truck tire and rolls down the hill toward the airport. In the winter, activities include skiing and snowmobiling. Poker Run, a snowmachine race from Dawson City to Tok passes through Chicken.

Chicken's business district consists of a post office, bar, gift shop, cafe, salmon bake, and gas pump. The town's fire department burned down in 1982.

Chicken has grown...its population has not. And the road to Chicken is paved...from Tok, but not from Dawson. In 1998, the Chicken Dredge (alias Pedro Dredge), which mined Chicken Creek from 1959 to 1967, was moved to the center of town where the Chicken Gold Camp & Outpost is now located. Besides the dredge, which can be toured, there is now an espresso bar & internet cafe, nice campground with a shower or two, rooms and a cabin or two and a cool gift store at the same location. And they have kayak rentals, panning for gold and mining for gold.

More info is available at: http://www.chickengold.com

There is always some controversy in Chicken...the latest seems to be over whether or not the name should be changed to "DUCK". Seems some of the residents are disappointed in the lack of resident chickens.

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